Imagine’s ‘Eagle’ will perch at Par

Howard snares 'Serpent' for Paramount

Paramount Pictures has acquired “The Serpent and the Eagle,” an epic project that Ron Howard will direct about the Spanish conquest of Mexico in 1520.

Studio has set Brian Helgeland to write a new draft of the script in a dealworth about $2 million. Howard’s Imagine partner Brian Grazer will produce.

“Serpent” originated at Universal right when Howard ankled “The Alamo” but was still intrigued by the history of Mexico. Imagine acquired a script by Hans Beimler and Robert Wolfe that focused on how the Spanish conqueror Hernando Cortez plundered the Aztec nation aided by an Aztec princess-turned-slave.

Pic will be shepherded by Par’s Donald De Line and Alli Shearmur and Imagine’s David Bernardi.

Helgeland last scripted “Man on Fire” and “Mystic River.”

There is no clear timeframe for Howard to direct the film, though the pic is considered one of his priority directing projects in the Imagine arsenal.

Having wrapped Russell Crowe-Renee Zellweger starrer “Cinderella Man,” Howard and Grazer are prepping “The Da Vinci Code” with John Calley. Tom Hanks, Audrey Tautou and Jean Reno are set to star in the adaptation of Dan Brown’s novel, which Sony will release May 19, 2006.